Mad for Mutton

Written by James Mansfield (co-founder of field&flower)

iStock_000001539659_Large.jpgLamb has never been our most popular meat; it falls below chicken, beef, and pork in the pecking order of what gets packed into a field&flower box each week, with the exception being Easter. Only lamb leg steaks sneak into our Top 15 products each week, which makes them as popular as sirloin steaks. UK sheep farmers and retailers face stiff competition from the cheaper imports of New Zealand lamb. It may have travelled 14,000 + miles, but it’s often still cheaper than the British equivalent. Farmers Weekly Magazine reported that New Zealand lamb exports to the UK jumped 84% in November 2015 to 5’600 tonnes, and the overall exports of sheep meat hit their highest level for 15 years.

Having farmed in New Zealand, I can vouch first-hand for their efficiency in sheep and lamb farming. They also produce great-tasting, succulent lamb, which helps explain their popularity. It’s a shame they produce more than they can consume, but then, what is a Kiwi farmer to do with thousands of acres of mountainous pasture that can’t be farmed with crops?

Lamb, of course, is nothing new to us. Lamb koftas, tagines, bhunas, burgers, moussaka, pies, shawarma, Sunday roasts, pilaf, and the good old-fashioned hotpot are all lamb favourites, but most people seem to underutilise this meat at home, myself included.  We hope to convince you to start including this versatile meat in your regular rotation of recipes.

Spring Lamb 

Spring lamb has made a name for itself because of its velvety texture, sweet taste, and tenderness. Our spring lamb comes from the South West counties, where new lamb is first to reach maturity. It then comes into season and filters up the country as weeks go by, until the hill farms of Scotland. We recommend eating new season spring lamb in May and June, after the lambs have enjoyed some spring grass and sun on their backs. The superior taste profile is a combination of sugars from the fresh grass and clover leys, and because the lamb is younger than autumn lamb. We love new season lamb chops and lamb leg, as the delectable taste really comes through in these cuts and they’re perfect for Easter weekend.

Lamb and hogget

Free range lamb rarely goes beyond six months in age, whereas hogget is the juvenile sheep that experiences a second spring or summer and is over a year old. Because our lamb is grass-fed and raised by farmers we trust on traditional extensive farms in Dorset, Devon, and Somerset, we can guarantee not only the taste, but also the welfare of the animal. A grass and forage diet ensures our lamb is packed full of long chain Omega-3 fatty acids, which aid heart health, whilst the important set of nutrients are present in the form of protein, iron, zinc, and B vitamins (including B12, which keeps the body’s nervous system in check).

Mutton

We’re big fans of mutton for many reasons – not just because it has an amazing taste. Because mutton is considered to be a by-product of lamb, ethically, it makes sense to promote. Mutton is often misunderstood, and has a reputation for being tough and fatty. For many people, the word “mutton” brings up an image of meat that has had all of the flavour boiled out of it. If that’s your idea of mutton, we highly recommend you give it another try.

By the very nature of being over two years old, mutton has worked harder, lived longer, and just like aged beef, contains lots of flavour. Mutton is traditionally viewed as meat that needs hours of cooking, but don’t turn on the slow cooker just yet.  Cuts like the cannon can be seared and sautéed, just as you would cook a trendy flat iron steak or mild venison steak. Diced mutton can be used to replace diced beef and venison, as it can take on bold flavours, making it an ideal spiced curry meat.

To view our new thrifty mutton range click here.

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